Tag Archives: woo

Aussie anti-vaccination group loses charitable status

Oh, this is good.

Of all the peddlers of fraudulent, bogus and dangerous healthcare advice, it’s the anti-vaccinationists that stir me most to anger. Of the anti-vaxxers, few deserve censure more than the AVN and its head, Meryl Dorey.

To the unwary, the Australian Vaccination Network might sound like a responsible establishment promoting public health through immunisation, but in fact they are the opposite. Through their persistent campaigning against the use of vaccines they have reduced the immunisation rates in some areas of Australia to desperately low levels.

Dana McCaffery was just 4 weeks old when she died from pertussis (whopping cough) in March last year. She was far too young to be vaccinated herself and in the North Coast region of New South Wales, the home of the AVN, far too few people around Dana had protective immunity. There is no cure for whopping cough.

If you can, read the account by Dana’s parents. Their fortitude is remarkable.

Even before the baby’s funeral Meryl Dorey was telephoning the Director of Public Health for the NSW North Coast, trying to obtain the private details Dana’s death and disputing the diagnosis.

Within days, the Toni and David McCaffery were confronting the AVN on national television, during which debate Meryl Dorey continued to try to dispute the facts of Dana’s death. As Meryl has previously said, on the subject of measles and whooping cough:

“You didn’t die from it 30 years ago and you’re not going to die from it today”.

(Needless to say, Meryl is no doctor of medicine).

I wonder what Meryl thinks of the 9 infants that have already died in the ongoing pertussis epidemic in California.

So it’s encouraging to read that the Australian authorities are acting to limit the activities of the AVN. Public awareness of the need to vaccinate is growing, through initiatives like this and this. In this pro-vaccination movement, the work of Toni and David McCaffery is a big inspiration.

Many thanks to Phil Plait and Rachael Dunlop for keeping me up to date with the anti-vaxxers’ shenanigans.

A letter to my MP

Dear Mr Redwood

I write again as your constituent to ask for your support in preventing the waste of NHS funds on ineffective treatments.

At a time when we need drastic cuts in Government spending, it is important to ensure that the NHS only funds treatments of proven efficacy. It is, therefore, extremely disappointing to see four Early Day Motions from David Tredinnick calling for support for disproven quackery:

EDM284 [Bma Annual Representative Meeting Motions On Homeopathy]

EDM285 [Effect Of Homeopathic Remedies On Breast Cancer Cells]

EDM286 [Homeopathic Medicines In The Treatment Of Moderate To Severe Depression]

EDM287 [Homeopathy And Chronic Primary Insomnia]

It is not simply the case that homeopathy is unproven; it has been proven not to work. These EDMs fly in the face of the advice of the Science and Technology Select Committee to cut homeopathy – a 200-year-old pseudoscience – from NHS funding. I applaud the committee, and their reliance on evidence to come to a solid conclusion.

In contrast, the studies cited as proof of the effect of homeopathic treatments in EDM284, EDM285 and EDM286 are in fact riddled with deep and significant flaws. Given that EDM285 applauds the use of homeopathic substances to treat breast cancer – a claim which I am told would be illegal if made by a UK practitioner – it’s clear to see how support for this motion could lead to real and significant harm.

I welcome the actions of Julian Huppert MP, who has tabled clear and reasonable amendments to these misguided motions, amendments which correct their inaccuracies and redirect them back in line with real science and evidence. These amendments are titled as follows:

EDM284A1 [Bma Annual Representative Meeting Motions On Homeopathy]

EDM285A1 [Effect Of Homeopathic Remedies On Breast Cancer Cells]

EDM286A1 [Homeopathic Medicines In The Treatment Of Moderate To Severe Depression]

EDM287A1 [Homeopathy And Chronic Primary Insomnia]

I therefore urge you to consider the issues and the serious ramifications to both the taxpayer in funding disproven treatments on the NHS, and to the overall health of the nation in recommending pseudo-medicine for such serious issues as severe depression and breast cancer. If you agree that cancer, depression and other illnesses should only be treated with modalities that have been proven to work, I urge you to sign EDM284A1, EDM285A1, EDM286A1 and EDM287A1.

Thank you for your time.

Yours sincerely,

[Counting Quoll]

UPDATE – 26/6/10:

I just received this email:

From REDWOOD, John

Date Sat, Jun 26, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Subject RE: Effective health treatment

Thank you for your email. EDMs are never debated and have little impact.

That’s it. Disappointing, to say the least. Thrice I have emailed John Redwood with my rationalist concerns and thrice he has refused to sign the EDMs. I can’t fault the man for inconsistency.